Hamilton Gardens, Chinoiserie Garden, Hamilton

15/02/2014 - 21/02/2014

The Pumphouse, Auckland

06/11/2013 - 15/11/2013

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2014

Production Details

MIX & MATCH is a night of comedy where you cast the show. 3 short plays will be presented & at the start of the performance you decide which actor plays what role.

You have your very own casting couch. This is not improv! Our actors have worked tirelessly learning & rehearsing each role in every play so you get an entertaining, humorous & sometimes enlightening experience whoever you choose to match in the mix.


Sure Thing

Two people share a table at a busy café – but will they talk, not talk, hit it off, or take a dislike to each other? Is it all in the timing? Or all in the casting?

Characters to Cast: BEN & KATE

The Philadelphia

Two guys meeting up for dinner, are having very different days, both of them quite extreme. Their waitress also is having a bit of a day. Is it fate, and if it is… can we change our fate by the way we deal with the cards we’ve been dealt?

Characters to Cast: AL, MARK & SHARON

Arabian Nights

Two people meet in a moment in time, one of those moments that can happen when travelling. But can they communicate even though they don’t speak the same language? And when you have an interpreter working for you, can that person tilt the interaction to travel an intended, or perhaps unintended, path?


The Mystery at Twicknam Vicarage

Well this is the bonus play of the evening. And it’s a mystery so we can’t really tell you anything about it.

– – – – – – –
Herd of Cats is a new Theatre Company, formed by Tainui Tukiwaho & Ascia Maybury, two professionals who have been working in the industry for over 10 years. They aim to bring fun & frivolity to the stage, so you walk away with that bounce in your step, little smile on your face & feeling a little richer for the experience. 


The PumpHouse Theatre
WED-FRI 7:30pm
6th-8th & 13th-15th NOV
09 489 8360 

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2014

Saturday, 15 February 2014 @ 8.30pm
Thursday, 20 February 2014 @ 8.30pm
Friday, 21 February 2014 @ 9:30pm
Where:  Chinoiserie Garden
Wet Venue:  Chartwell Room
Tickets:  $25 Adult | $20 Concession  
Genre:  Theatre 
Duration:  75 minutes

Nicholas Foo
Josh Harriman
Ascia Maybury
Keporah Torrance
Tainui Tukiwaho 

GUIDE:  Regan Taylor

Theatre , Sketch , Comedy ,

1hr 15mins

Pure entertainment from experts

Review by Gail Pittaway 21st Feb 2014

What a delightful night of clever theatre this is. ‘Herd of Cats’ is a new company formed by Tainui Tukiwaho and Ascia Maybury, two Auckland based actors who’ve brought some great shows to the Hamilton Gardens Festival of the Arts in the past. 

The show opens charmingly with Tainui’s daughter trying to highjack the event as MC, but she is gently moved along by her father and he introduces the plan and the actors to the audience.

The five performers, Ascia Mayburry, Josephine Stewart Tewhiu, Josh Harriman and Nicholas Foo and Regan Taylor, are all graduates of theatre and performing arts programmes and take resting positions around the stage until the ring master claps his hands and they move into position. He quickly shifts us all through an audition process where the audience chooses players for the three short plays that will follow.

The three pieces are fun, too and it’s entertaining and enlightening being part of the casting process and reflecting on how it might have changed had we cast one or two other actors for each one. Overall we are pretty pleased with our choices and the final version we’re given. 

The first play is called ‘Sure thing’ and has two characters playing through a meeting, offering all the possible inflections, shifts of tone and body, nuance and transaction that might occur. A bell rings after each short exchange and the two return to square one with a different angle each time until eventually, like the movie 50 First Dates, we get some progress; things shift, come together, fall  apart and then come together.

This is a charming test case for our two chosen actors and Josephine Stewart Tewhiu and Regan Taylor are great together ; she is cool but a tad playful while he is extravagant and irrepressible. 

The second short play is also a wee gem. ‘Philadelphia’ is a state of mind where everything goes wrong and you get a lot of opposition. That‘s what Nicholas Foo’s laid back, holiday-mood character (he’s more Los Angeles today) tells Josh Harriman’s tense and upset guy. All done in broad New jersey accents, it’ s set in a diner and has a classic ‘broad’ as waitress, played with obvious delight by Ascia Maybury.  

The third play of the set, ‘The Interpreter’, is pure comedy as Regan Taylor interprets for Nicholas Foo’s tourist who has come into a souvenir shop in a Middle Eastern town, and is served by a pretty girl who does not speak his language (Ascia Maybury again).

The fact that the whole thing is in English adds to the humour as the Interpreter has some very fanciful versions of what each is saying and constructs a romance between the two based on his misinformation.

For good luck and measure a final play is thrown in: a ‘murder in the vicarage’ farce with a fine array of upper class speech impediments and drunken lurching on show. The rich members of a cocktail party are cross-examined by a cockney police inspector about who killed the body on the carpet.

Tainui Tukiwaho does good service as a dead body but adds in some fine life work too as the story flashes back and forth to fill in the clues. A load of very entertaining nonsense ensues and, as with all the pieces, it’s handled with a deft touch.

It’s an evening of pure entertainment from experts and the offer of insect spray to protect from the twilight mosquitos is a kind bonus, too.


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Surreal sketches amusing enough

Review by Nik Smythe 14th Nov 2013

The emergent production from Herd of Cats is a little rough around the edges but nevertheless fulfils the company’s mission statement, to “bring fun and frivolity to the stage”. 

It’s a curious gimmick: three short comedy plays are performed by five actors, the roles they play being chosen by the audience in a clumsily amusing casting process involving democracy in time-consuming action. 

Sporting a poo-brown suit and Movember-medal contending ’tache, Regan Taylor’s emcee persona seems oddly wired at first, not completely comfortable working the diminutive mid-week crowd on the fly.  However, his natural charm and humour ultimately wins us over. 

The cast members are helpfully identified with their nicknames emblazoned on their black t-shirts, and each brings their own quality to the ensuing series of absurd playlets.  Ace (Ascia Maybury) has strong presence and great comic timing; Kep (Keporah Torrance) is demure and uncomplicated, if a little stiff at times; Josh (Harriman) has a potent energy about him, Nick (Nicholas Foo) is cool, calm and collected and Tai (Tainui Tukiwaho) a versatile asset – relaxed and natural in one role, skillfully comic in the next. 

The plays are really slightly extended absurdist comedy sketches. Some netsurfing reveals to me that all three + 1 were written by one David Ives, in the 80s and 90s in America.  They seem fairly obscure – hard to find much else about any of them besides Sure Thing, but why is he not credited in the programme?  

Sure Thing explores the plethora of potential outcomes from any scenario, for instance when a woman and a man meet in a café on a lonely Friday night.  The frequent ring of an offstage shop-bell resets the scene to before each derailing remark, illustrating, perhaps a little cynically, what a miracle it is when any such encounter actually works out well. 

Even more surreal by degrees, The Philadelphia’s title sounds like a cocktail but in fact refers to a state of mind, a handy epithet for those days where nothing makes sense and everything seems the rev erse of what the protagonist had understood to be reality.

Arabian Nights is probably my favourite on this particular evening, with Ace giving one of the most memorable performances as an interpreter in a busy Kasbah marketplace, between a young bric-a-brac stall attendant and an earnest young tourist looking for a memento of his journey abroad.  The awkward, plainspoken exchanges between the pair are transformed into passionately poetic advances and the odd funny charade by the interpreter, eventually encouraging them to speak more directly from the heart themselves. 

There is also a bonus piece billed as “a mystery so we can’t really tell you anything about it”, so there you go; I won’t either. 

Director Amanda Rees has her work cut out for her with this concept, as do her enterprising cast, each of whom has to rehearse every potential role in their gender and a couple of interchangeable ones which they all have to learn.  That’s four roles for the women and five for the men, making thirty-something possible casting variations if my maths is any good (not counting their roles in the set-cast bonus piece). 

Obviously the ideal knock-on effect for the company is the audience’s temptation to see the plays again in an alternative arrangement, as indeed I would be keen to do, time permitting.  I wonder if they’ve considered offering half-price tickets for a second viewing. 

The overall presentation is, as I’ve said, a little rough around the edges; the introductions and casting particularly loose, albeit in an appealingly casual way. Although it’s amusing enough, a slicker packaging style could enhance the entertainment experience considerably, as undoubtedly would the opportunity to play to a full house.


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